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Sky Broncos midway through national competition

May 21, 2009

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University's precision flight team, the Sky Broncos, are in the hunt for a national title as the National Intercollegiate Flying Association 2009 championship unfolds this week at Parks College of St. Louis University.

The annual competition began May 18 and is scheduled to wrap up with a May 23 banquet at which the final results are announced. The event attracts some 400 pilots from teams representing 30 of the top aviation schools in the nation. Schools earn the right to compete at nationals by winning or placing second in regional competition. The Sky Broncos qualified by placing second last October at NIFA's Region III competition at Kent State University.

Teams accrue points to determine final standings by having individual team members place in the top slots in the competition's 11 judged flight and ground events. Both individual placements and team standings are kept under wraps until the championship's concluding banquet the evening of Saturday, May 23. For 17 consecutive years, WMU's Sky Broncos have placed among the top four teams in the nation in NIFA competition. They last won a national championship in 2002.

Competitive ground events began Monday and flight competition started Tuesday. Results of individual performances and team standings are kept under wraps until the concluding banquet, so teams do not know how well they are doing.

This year's Sky Broncos are led by Kevin Kotewa, a recent WMU graduate from Memphis, Mich. Beside Kotewa, two other team members are competing for the final time as Sky Broncos. The team includes five members who are competing for their first or second time on the team.

The team's head coach is Steven W. Tkachuk, faculty specialist in WMU's College of Aviation.

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Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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